GOP Members Urge HHS To Issue ACA Exchange Enrollment Numbers
On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter requesting enrollment data for the federally run health insurance exchanges, which began accepting applications on Oct. 1, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/8).
The lawmakers' request for information followed a week of widespread reports of high website traffic to the federal exchanges' portal at Healthcare.gov. On Monday, top officials in the Obama administration acknowledged that software flaws with the system caused the enrollment difficulties and delays that millions of consumers nationwide faced last week. However, HHS said that as of Monday, the website had received about 8.6 million visits (California Healthline, 10/8).
The letter to Sebelius noted, "Multiple reports indicate ... that some states failed to enroll anyone on the first day. The reasons for this are not clear. Are website failures preventing enrollment? Are consumers balking at the price of coverage?" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/8).
In a statement highlighting the letter to Sebelius, Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said, "For the last three-and-a-half years, the administration repeatedly promised that everything was 'on track' for enrollment, but widespread reports of website failures and the administration's lack of transparency suggest otherwise." He said that "the administration was quick to boast how many people visited their website the first week," but it has "been silent on the most important numbers of all, enrollment" (Howell, "Inside Politics," Washington Times, 10/8).
System Flaws, Enrollment Difficulties Fuel Calls for One-Year Delay to Individual Mandate
Meanwhile, several Republicans -- fueled by the administration officials' acknowledgements of system flaws with the federal exchange website -- renewed calls for the ACA's individual mandate to be delayed for one year until January 2015, CQ Roll Call reports.
Speaking at a news conference, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said, "If you're having a hard time using Obamacare's broken website, you shouldn't be penalized for not signing up this year." He added that "all we're asking for: a one-year delay of that tax is more than fair given how poorly the rollout of Obamacare has been."
When asked separately whether Sebelius should be fired or asked to resign because of the problems facing the exchanges, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "That's a decision for the president to make" (Ethridge, CQ Roll Call, 10/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.